Enid Dame, Poet: Woman’s First Breath

enid1 from internet

Enid Dame (1943-2003) was an upbeat Post-Beat feminist poet. Her satire lacked the cynicism that defeats its purpose, and her good-humored,  tongue-in-cheek sensibility made her work unique. Her poetry often brought Biblical characters, especially women, to life.    

Her poem, Lilith, showcases her humor and spirit. When she read it with her Brooklyn accent the effect was effervescent. One reviewer said of her book, On the Road to Damascus, Maryland, that it was “a book of illuminations, conversions, and the hauntingly contemporary voices of Biblical heroines.”

For 25 years, with her husband, the poet Donald Lev, Enid published Home Planet News, the voice of taxi driver and worker poets, road poets and café poets, and multi-everything poets. The duo ran the late night readings in the 1970s at the Cedar Tavern in Greenwich Village with just the right mix of order and disorder. A long polished bar and chairs and tables glittered beneath the plate glass sky roof and windows on the street gave the place a dark glamorous look. It was legendary as a watering hole in the 1950s and 1960s for Gregory Corso, Jack Kerouac and other Beat poets, along with Jackson Pollock, Andy Warhol and other modern artists.

Enid taught composition at the New Jersey Institute of Technology and creative writing at Rutgers University in New Jersey.  She was a scholar of Jewish women’s poetry and midrashic writing, lecturing at the Institute for Contemporary Midrash, for the Religious Diversity Seminars of the New Jersey Council for the Humanities. She co-edited the anthology Which Lilith?: Feminist Writers Re-Create the World’s First Woman (1998). Enid had seven volumes of poetry published, including Riding the D Train, Lilith, Lilith’s New Career, and Anything You Don’t See.

But what I remember most about her was her smile, her generosity, her passionate, amiable courage, as well as her intelligent, insightful poetry. 

Enid Dame on Wikipedia

More about Enid Dame on Rain Taxi

Enid Dame Reads Lilith (1989)

Interview with Enid Dame and Donald Lev

Home Planet News Marathon Reading Flyer

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Memories are Fossils

WalkAway

Memories are fossils, she said,

And left him on the strand

The carnival was whirling around

Food, family and dancing

On the Day of the Dead

He walked to the sand

And ran for miles, apocalypso miles,

Tumbling down to the exposed bone,

Curving bone that rims the sea

And there memory came as a tsunami

And all the fossils on the shore

Were particles of I;

After love has swept by,

Memories are fossils and I

The Old Man Sings

Sea Grapes Jetty Park
(You may sing this as a round)

Over sand flats the Old Man raves
sunlight cresting on waves
the truth is out along the borders
roving the island seeking new quarters
full of unrest, full of solace

A twisted morass bars his way
black thistle, buckthorn, and palm
rife with full-throated glory songs
roam above his outstretched arms
full of unrest, full of solace

Plundering triumphant cries of raptors
rhapsody of warblers and wrens
weave around him as he traces
the hammock’s periphery in rapture
full of unrest, full of solace

From the magic circle the echo
of a willet’s scream: will it, will it
and the royal terns’ call to arms
lure him into the echo of time
full of unrest, full of solace

The Old Man cups his ears to capture
the final alarm, the eternal song
a siren call of infinite pathos
in the flooding and the flowing out
full of life, full of death

Branches scrape above him adagio
but there is no way into, no path
through the mystifying terrain
until he cries out in a crescendo
full of death, full of life

Copyright 1998 by Mary Clark

The original poem appeared in Waterways magazine, Vol. 30, No. 11, May 2010; and Jimson Weed, Volume 30, New Series Vol. 14, No. 2, Fall 2011. In this version, the ending has been slightly revised.

Children of the Moon, Chapter 12: Solitude

To begin reading Children of the Moon, see the Prologue.

Laurel visited her grandmother:
Why didn’t I go with him that day?
Grandma Wing waved her hand:
How could you know what would happen?
But, Laurel said: I can’t help him.

The old woman snapped back:
Stand by him if you believe he’s innocent,
and you can overcome this;
you are farther rooted in the source
of all things than you can ever imagine.

Grandma Wing gives her a letter:
Your mother wrote this poem when young;
she called it “Sowing The Field.”

Bands of wheat fields flow gold and red
on a low road where clouds sweep overhead;
I walk among mountains steep and high
to catch spear-stalks of wheat as they fly

Reaching I grasp fleet arrows of wheat
as day yields to low clouds gold and red;
I watch each seed as it falls to my feet
through the reaping beat of my hands

Will wondered, too, why few believed
in his brother’s innocence;
he felt betrayed by friends and neighbors;
only a few said Sandy was the last person
they thought capable of violence

With most the rumors went viral:
he was always so quiet, so polite,
they had been fooled, or he was odd,
often alone, walking about
in a world of his own

Morris Rubra investigated and found:
There have been other incidents in the area,
and even several deaths that are unsolved.

In the ensuing hysteria the trial began;
Sandy’s guileless demeanor isolated him
and alienated the jury and the press;
he asked Morris Rubra if he seemed arrogant;
the lawyer replied: You appear to be too innocent.

With his family and handful of friends
in the courtroom, the judge sentenced Sandy
to prison; he turned to look at his parents:
his father’s face was granite,
his mother’s expression a frieze of grief

Morris Rubra began his appeal:
Never give in to despair,
I’ll do everything I can to see you free again.

A prison guard greeted him:
I have more respect for a man who comes clean
than one like you who never owns up.

You’re a coward, the guard said,
and probably feel like a genius
for getting away with other killings;
we know we’re putting an end to a lot
of suffering if we put an end to you.

The moon’s pale engravings on the cell wall
wove a pattern of loss and sorrow
as the knowledge of evil streamed in,
and this revelation caused the greatest pain
of all, and Sandy wept for the human condition

Not far away, in another town, a man
only a few years older than Sandy,
was arrested for the murder of a teen-aged girl;
he was convicted, sentenced to life in prison
and brought to a cell next to Sandy’s

He watched Sandy suffer with pleasure:
in a corrupt world there was no justice,
he thought in gratification of his cynicism;
better to embrace the chaos
and take whatever you can.

Blanca Cors recovered from her injuries
but was unable to identify her attacker;
Will’s anger erupted with Morris Rubra:
I can’t help my brother, or save him,
and I hate everybody who’s turned against him.

The older man counseled him:
Don’t let this make you bitter,
or lose your trust in people.

The wind in the pines was a fugue,
and in the sky and river a tomblike gloom;
Mira tried in vain to comfort Will,
and Morris Rubra to give him hope,
but Will was inconsolable

When Will fled to the coastal solitude
of Casey Key, he found brief respite;
on the beach he saw a group of teens his age,
threatening to rupture the amniotic sac
of light and wind that enwombed him

They waved to him, and he recognized each
one just as they closed in,
casting tall shadows on the sand;
the Gulf galloped over rocks and moss
glistened like sweat on horses’ flanks

Voices broke the hypnotic pulse of surf,
reverberating around him
and riding roughshod into his brain:
Hey, Will. We’re going to the rodeo.
Are you?

He tried to smile:
Yes, I’m coming to the rodeo; I’ll be there;
he knew he should be grateful for their loyalty,
for their attempted normalcy,
but these people belonged to a past illusion

Will told his father and added, my world
before god turned away;
his father threw up his hands: God?
We people bind our innocence in fear and lies,
and trot out the worst in ourselves with pride.

But doesn’t god give us that ability?
His father reflected a moment:
It doesn’t mean we have to use or develop it;
we can be the way Sandy is, so much like my parents,
and your grandparents, in kindness and humility

They were such good people, so decent
it makes me cry to remember them,
and they not only existed — they flourished.

Will was no longer listening;
his grandparents were killed in a highway accident,
on their way home from visiting the family;
there was no justice, no reward for being good,
and happiness was an illusion

Will dropped out of school, taking odd jobs
and one day hit the road; he was riding through
the Everglades when the moon’s sudden reflection
in a pond fired off a thought;
the marsh whisked by and the thought was lost

Children of the Moon, Chapter 11: Sacrifice

In the morning police cars pulled up
to the ranch house door;
an officer spoke to Will and Sandy’s parents:
We need to ask your son, the oldest one,
some questions.

Sandy? About what?
The officer replied: The assault on Blanca Cors;
he was seen near her home that day.

His mother cried out when Sandy was led
to the patrol car; as his father ran for his car,
she leaned down by the window
to look Sandy in the eye:
We’ll be right there.

In the interview, Sandy was asked:
What were you doing in the area?
and he reflected:
Just walking, hiking, looking at things
and . . . Sandy hesitated

He could not mention visiting Primitivo
and so he fell silent, protecting a friend
many would be too willing to sacrifice

The interrogator moved in:
You’re hiding something. What is it?
Sandy shook this off:
I was out walking; I didn’t hear
or see anything.

The man retorted: Nothing?
and then Sandy remembered:
There was a man; I think it was a man,
in a field; when I looked again
he was gone.

The officer’s voice turned sharp:
So you saw a man?
Or did you see her and want her?

Sandy bowed his head, folding his arms
across his chest, surprised at the rage
in his questioner’s voice

The man leaned in to bleat into Sandy’s ear:
She was beautiful, and you couldn’t help yourself.
What did you do to her?

Sandy’s silence was his answer,
as he began to understand his innocence,
all innocence is beyond proof by reason,
and cannot be revealed in words,
no matter how clear and eloquent

His brother and parents arrived at the station
and are informed of Sandy’s arrest for assault
on the wealthy widow, Blanca Cors

Sandy? His mother cried in disbelief:
Everyone who knows him knows
he is gentle and caring;
but the sergeant answered her:
We have reason to believe differently.

Sandy was brought into the hallway, handcuffed
and flanked by officers; his father spoke to him:
Sandy, we’ll fight this. Don’t give up.

At the arraignment, Morris Rubra argued for bail,
but the judge said:
Juveniles are the most dangerous.

The prosecutor pressed his case:
There is evidence of malice and depravity
and although he is 16, we ask he be tried
as an adult; Blanca Cors is fighting for her life,
so charges may be upgraded.

In his cell, Sandy told Morris Rubra:
I was leaving Mulberry Ranch
and saw Primitivo; it was neither of us.

The lawyer said he believed him, but:
We must respond to the accusations;
and Sandy mused:
Why do people assume the worst
about others and so quickly?

Morris Rubra’s reply echoed in the cell:
They don’t want to look too closely
into their own hearts.

After a moment the lawyer commented:
You give people the benefit of the doubt;
many, however, feel that others
have let them down, deceived them
or forsaken them for no good reason

But, he said, I’ve found the reason
for assuming the worst is often for power
and domination;
and he asked Sandy:
Don‘t you feel the need to dominate?

I feel the need to escape from domination,
Sandy said, and he opened his hands:
Why can’t people see that I’m innocent?

Morris Rubra said, with a wry laugh:
It’s hard to know who’s innocent
by looking at them or watching them;
I’ve known people who smile and charm,
but by gumbo, were the most guilty.

So how can I defend myself, or be defended,
when any defense opens the door to guilt,
and any defense can be seen as a pretense?

The lawyer said:
That’s a good question,
and one I’ve tangled with a long time.

Sandy paced the cell:
In defending myself I’ll become self-righteous;
and he was surprised at Morris Rubra’s response:
You leave the self-righteousness to me;
I excel at it.

Sandy saw the irony:
Aren’t you sacrificing part of your better self
when you do that?
Morris Rubra raised his brows:
Yes; but I’ve chosen to make that sacrifice.

To read the Prologue, click here. You can read the following chapters from there.

Children of the Moon, Chapter 10: Primitivo

To read The Prologue, click here. You can read all the following chapters starting there.

On the weather-cured porch Mira’s father said:
A woman was attacked last night; blood all over
the home; her name was Blanca Cors, a widow.

Mira held her breath until her father told her:
She’s alive and they think she’ll recover.
Mira ran to the ranch, calling for Will and Sandy;
they had heard the news, and she told Sandy:
We saw Primitivo running from the home of Blanca Cors.

Primitivo was not at his cabin, but under the elm,
arms and legs sprawling like roots;
What happened? Will asked him.

Primitivo gathered himself:
I heard a signal of distress and ran toward it;
a woman’s scream;
and he lowered his head:
I turned and ran away.

We heard it too, Will told him,
But when we came to the house
it was too late.

Primitivo took recognizable shape:
I thought of the price of cowardice
and came back; he had carried her away
into the swamp, and so I followed with a howl
that came from my pain.

I thought I saw someone, Sandy said,
a stranger, but I did not see his face;
come back to the cabin with us.

Will told Primitivo:
They will suspect you;
but Primitivo was making another connection:
The woman’s voice was like music,
music I’ve heard before.

On the way it began to rain
and at the cabin Morris Rubra was pacing
in the oak hammock’s shelter;
Mira’s knees shook as she ran to him:
We’re afraid they’ll think Primitivo did it.

Morris Rubra nodded and took Primitivo aside;
they spoke in spiked tones;
Go on home, Morris Rubra said to the children,
his hands prayer-gripped together:
I’ll see what I can do.

Hours later, Mira’s father called to her:
Come with me;
she hopped into the jeep; at the airport,
a scar of concrete and a hangar in a fallow field,
Morris Rubra’s plane was on the runway

Mira gasped, recognizing the hulking figure
in the back seat: Shadow!
and then she whispered: Primitivo.

The plane flew over plains and chains of lakes;
at the end of a circuitous river launching
over a great expanse of water:
Lake Okeechobee, corralled by levees,
drowned in polluted sediment

Dipping down they landed on an airstrip
plowed into wetlands, edged by dunes,
near the Seminole reservation

Primitivo familiarized himself with his new home:
Black-calabash, dwarf cypress, everglades
and rough leaf velvet seed, and silver palm

On the flight home the moonlight was beaten silver
on the lake, and streams shimmered through grass
and sandy runes, taking their breath away

Children of the Moon, Chapter 10: Border Road

To read the Prologue, click here.

Laurel moved through her grandmother’s home,
through her creation with its sense and sensibility
and memories of a life worth living;
Grandma Wing reigned sovereign over this world
and gave it a special radiance

Aunt Ida bowed her head to whisper:
She’s our Mae West, our Madonna;
a shocking, fearless adventuress

Grandma Wing told Laurel of her travels
with her husband, in the short span
between retirement and his death

Laurel was intrigued: All over the world?
Yes, all over the world; but I know I can’t have
that back again; so I might as well enjoy myself.

A smoking roast simmered in the oven
and fresh green beans in summer savory,
and a sauce only her grandmother knew;
Laurel set the table:
But what if you fall in love again?

Grandma Wing smiled:
I doubt that will happen, and anyway
it’s much too much trouble at my age;

The old woman faced Laurel:
Did you fall in love?
No, Laurel blushed,
and Grandma Wing laughed:
You will.

On the river, Mira looked to the western sky:
It’s late, she said: Wait, did you hear that?
Will listened; a whistling sound dropped
and spiked again:
Nighthawk?

They ran up the boat ramp near Mulberry Ranch
where killdeer whirred over a sandy field
shrieking kee – kee – keee

Another scream mingled with the wild abandon
of river, birds and wildlife;
Mira and Will walked towards the piercing cry
to see a man bolt from a manor house
on the neighboring ranch

Will turned with widened eyes to Mira:
Primitivo!
Yes, yes, I think so, she replied;
They raced to follow him, calling his new name,
but Primitivo slipped away into darkness

They turned toward the house,
a sour taste of dread in their mouths
to the open front door

From the threshold they peered inside;
the house was quiet, crimson light pooled
on the floor, streaked the walls

Will broke the silence: No one’s here.
They ran with arms and legs at odds
back to the boat, and rode the river home;
an alligator glided by, watching them
with one red eye

The swamp’s mouth opened wide
and a silhouette of a man ripped at a woman
as if he could carve his name in her flesh

A corona of sun rested on every flower,
detailed every spike of tall grass;
a figure crashed into the swamp
and fox and deer went slinking away
in the bug-in-amber spell

On Border Road, Sandy saw a man kneeling,
tending to his crop; a sphinx moth whirled
its turbine wings,
and the breeze shifted into high gear;
but when he looked back no one was there

With Uncle Joe driving and Aunt Ida in the front seat,
crossing Border Road Laurel thought she saw Sandy
and started to wave, but he was walking away

Children of the Moon, Chapter 8: Wilderness Song

To read Chapter 7, click here
pasturegraySandy heard only the sound of his footsteps
as he ran along the roads and through woods;
he ran until the motion carried him
ecstatically, heroically forward; hours passed
when he thought of nothing

But an occasional calculation of direction
and time of day; he drifted along to sounds
without known sources, some near
and some too far away
to know if they were real or imagined

A symphony of random music;
this is the wilderness song:
belong, belong

A yellow carpet of bur marigold swept down
to the riverbank where the river’s current
sang the name Macaco

All along the border, river and streams
interlocked to nurture a living body;
Sandy rested in a cup of royal fern, his face
appearing in the foliage, and from his forehead
sprang a fountain of fruiting branches

He came in from the border to join his family,
helping to set out large plank tables
by the ranch house and load them with food,
while fresh steaks simmered
over an open pit fire

Downwind, behind a stand of trees
a vat of skunk cabbage was boiling;
Laurel and Will went to investigate
and Laurel asked the boys’ mother:
Where do you get these?

In the spring, she answered, orange-colored pods
burst out of the ground in the pinewoods,
and then these tender coils; all summer they grow.
But, she told Laurel, if a branch falls or an animal
brushes them, they give off a rotten aroma.

Will interjected: It smells like skunk spray
when you cook it, but it tastes okay,
he added quickly, like store-bought cabbage.

Chicken and hot dogs roasted on a grill
and baked beans, Bibb lettuce, beefsteak tomatoes.
Vidalia onions, corn on the cob,
three bean salad, green beans,
hot sauce, jam and pies were piled on the tables

The women wore jeans and crisp shirts
and the men brown or blue pants
with slanted western-style pockets
and embossed leather belts with large buckles
and lariats with turquoise or silver

The boys and girls in blue jeans
and tees took off their cowboy hats
to sit with their families and friends
among the enormous oaks
as the day’s shadows gathered

When evening came, moonflowers expanded
in a dream on a web of vines;
Will drifted off to sleep in a comforting beam
of light, the sun’s belated gift:
a lightning stroke slowed down

A bird balanced on a branch, and while he watched,
the bird went through transmutations
of colors and shapes and attitudes,
crossfading from one into another;
Mira, he said, waking up

Banners of light drifted above all sound and reflection;
as the four explored Shadow’s garden,
Laurel cradled a welter of leaves:
He’s growing vegetables. Lettuce, radish
and tomatoes, broccoli, sweet potatoes.

Shadow emerged from the pine forest;
Sandy’s eyes mirrored the changing scene:
It’s like a cloud the way he moves, filled with light.

But, Will pointed out, a shadow follows him;
I wish we could help him more;
and Mira said: It’s up to him now.

Shadow came to them:
I am rare and threatened, I am native and strange,
I move slowly among all things, I am these and more.

Shadow stood still, looking at the children:
I am a man in the prime of my life just awakening.
Sandy’s eyes swam with light; and Will exclaimed:
Primitivo! We’ll call you Primitivo;
Shadow considered this: That may be.

Mira’s father drove to Casey Key the next day;
pulling off on a road’s scattershot shoulder,
she watched him climb out to talk to fishermen,
inspecting the catch, trading stories:
Snook are good today.

They headed straight for the Gulf of Mexico,
the white lip of the beach blazing in the same sun
that had bleached the Calusa shell mounds,
the same sun that scorched
the Spanish conquistadors

Her father said:
Ponce de León saw Florida on Easter Day,
and named it Pascua Florida: the feast of flowers

Years later, a new expedition sailed from Cadiz;
Pedro Menéndez de Avilés with a thousand people;
in 1565 he landed on Florida’s northeast coast,
not far away from a settlement of French Huguenots;
he had orders to cast them out.

The French were here first?
He answered her surprise:
Up near St. Mary’s, but in two years the Spanish
had driven out the French
and built the city of St. Augustine

Menéndez set up seven garrisons on Florida’s coasts,
one of them here at Charlotte Harbor;
Did they really think there was gold here?
Her father responded with a laugh:
Menéndez had bigger plans

He believed Florida could be conquered,
both physically and spiritually;
he thought diplomacy would convert the native people.
But his soldiers attacked native villages,
and Spanish priests ridiculed native religious beliefs

When one of his forts was destroyed
Menéndez changed his mind;
he proclaimed the natives were savages,
and he asked the Spanish king to allow:
“that war be made upon them with all vigor,
a war of fire and blood,
and that those taken alive shall be sold as slaves
removing them from the country
and taking them to neighboring islands.”

You know those words from memory?
He sighed: I know those words by heart;
Menéndez died in 1574.
Everything he did was in vain.
Only St. Augustine remains.

And the Calusa? she asked him;
With a sigh he answered:
By the mid-1700s the tribe was gone,
devastated by war and disease,
leaving ragged scars on the human spirit.

Children of the Moon, Chapter 7: Three Bridges

Laurel visited her Grandmother Wing
in Nokomis, a town with several bays
and three bridges; the house two stories
with wide windows on a concrete road
and a fountain in the circle

On the front porch her grandmother waited
stooped but keen-eyed;
Laurel felt her cool arthritic palm

As sunlight blazed beyond Venetian blinds
highlighting antiques and Oriental rugs
to match the tapestry of her exotic garden;
crystal and china shone in measured light;
and overhead fans kept the rooms cool

Aunt Ida fussed about the house:
Do you get bored here alone all day?
With an enigmatic smile Grandma Wing said:
Oh no, I read my books and newspapers;
I think and I daydream.

At my age those are the things I do best;
and in the evenings my neighbors
come over to play bridge; Grandma Wing
picked up a travel book: My next trip;
and sometimes, you know, I stay at my beach bungalow.

Laurel saw the joys and sorrows of a long life
imprinted on her grandmother’s face
when she sat by a window’s sunspot;
and Laurel settled in with her for a game
of double solitaire

Grandma Wing asked her:
Why don’t you stay for the weekend?
I would like to have you here.
Laurel sighed: I have to get home;
I have to do my homework.

Can’t you bring it here?
Laurel nodded yes, and the old woman rose
from her wing chair, striding to the door:
Help me in the garden; a delicate aroma
of tropical flowers washed over them

I want to stay with you, Laurel thought of days
in this garden; backlit by water-dappled clouds
Grandma Wing said: You keep saying,
you have to do this, you have to do that;
listen: the only thing you have to do is die.

On Mulberry Ranch, Will and Sandy tossed a ball
back and forth outside Shadow’s cabin
while Mira gathered wildflowers

Will held the ball a moment:
I was thinking how Shadow healed himself
and became meek.

Sandy smiled, but before he could answer
a blue plane with white markings flew above them,
circled the cabin and landed on a dirt strip;
Mira read the name written on the fuselage:
Scrubjay

Morris Rubra climbed from the pilot’s seat
and Sandy ran his hands along the plane:
It’s beautiful.

Mira joined them and said to Morris Rubra:
I want to fly; and Morris Rubra nodded his assent:
I’ll take you up if your father says it‘s all right.

Two days later, with her father next to Morris Rubra,
Mira strapped into the back seat
and held on as the plane taxied down a runway,
floated toward banks of clouds, surged up
and roared into sun-washed sky

She looked down to see mats of rain-fed forest
and pointillist fields interlaced with ranches,
citrus groves and small towns

The Gulf of Mexico telescoped in;
Mira saw sea melding seamlessly into sky:
Do you ever want to come down?

Morris Rubra admitted: I live to fly, day or night,
and often at night I’m alone in the sky;
and then I feel I’m flying through a divine mind.

Mira pointed to a wide glaze of water
spilling from the horizon: What’s that?
Morris Rubra banked the plane:
Tampa Bay. A fellow here was the first
to fly at night in 1911

There’s been a lot of changes since then;
Morris Rubra righted the plane: Like the Cubans;
he glanced at Mira’s father:
The Cubans are fiercely independent;
they fought Spain for their country.

When the bay city rolled into view
he pointed as Mira craned her neck:
Do you see that old fort? Osceola was there;
some of my people fought him;
And lost, her father replied

Morris Rubra laughed and Mira blurted out:
I’d like to learn to fly;
The pilot began the turn for home:
You come back when you’re 14;
I want you to see what’s out here.

To read Children of the Moon, The Prologue, click here
From there you can read the following chapters.

Children of the Moon, Chapter 6: Renegade

Black snakes lounged on jalousie windows
dozing until evening to dine
on the raucous chir-chirr-chir-ring tree frogs

Mira worked with her father in the garden
sunlight flying down in soft arrows,
imbedding in the flesh of the air

Heat murmured, a murmur she heard
near the ground among marigolds and lilies
and her father’s favorite roses

She listened for her white and brown terrier:
Solis, he might be hurt;
she looked around: Or lost in the woods;
Him? her father replies, Lost?
Never.

Mira weeded among the light green leaves
and aromatic white clusters of shell ginger,
and Solis trotted through the side yard

He passed white-eyed purple bougainvillea;
a multicolored jewel necklace hanging
from his jaws

Dropping it at her side he waited for praise;
What is that? her father jumped to his feet
A coral snake, Mira said;
Not likely, her father looked closer:
Oh, it is.

A metallic whirring caught their attention
as a mosquito truck rolled down the street,
fog coursing from its sprayers

Sprinting into the house, Mira called Solis
and he followed; her sisters and brothers
already closing all the windows and doors

Setting off in the morning, carrying penknives,
canteens and mess kits, Mira, Will, Laurel
and Sandy followed an asphalt road;
waves of heat created mirages of lakes
always ahead on the black adhesive strip

Sandy showed them coins of tar
on the soles of his sneakers
and they passed a great blue heron
lying by the side of the road, glistening
feathers dulled by dust and dried blood

Crossing a roadside ditch, they each
left a footprint in the crusted mud to mark
where they entered the woods

An indigo snake scaled the parched lips
of the ditch, seeking shelter in the grass;
bright yellow mullein flowers shocked
the evergreen and palmetto
in dashes of sunlight and dots of shade

Mira suggested: Let’s go to the fire tower;
and they pounded down paths
through sand blackberry

The palmettos thinned out, fan-like leaves
theatrical against the backdrop of sand-plain;
in a scattering of scrub pine, some lower branches
drying and barren of needles,
they scanned for fossils

Climbing to the top of the fire tower
they surveyed a thickening web of forest;
an eagle picked up from the horizon
and as it spiraled above them
they lifted their eyes to its broad level wings

A path ran back into the forest
and along the way, they found seed pods
and wild raspberries; quartered light fell
on deep-green nightshade
and blue dusky palmetto

At noon, they rested on cool layers
of pine needles and shared their food
as the needles glowed russet-gold

Sandy said: I would like to live in a log cabin
far out in the woods with a friend or two;
you can make everything, grow your own food.

Mira said: I’ve thought about living on my own;
and visualized her grandmother’s people:
That’s what Seminole means:
Breaking away. Renegade. To me
it means free.

To read Children of the Moon: The Prologue, click here

You can follow the links from there at the bottom of each chapter’s page.